It’s been a while since I’ve commented on the football we’ve been playing and quite a lot has happened in that time. Mixed fortunes in Europe, bowed out of the Fa Cup, rather tamely and missed chances to go top of the pile. So where do we stand football wise.
Going out of the Cup in the home defeat to Palace was disappointing but maybe not a disaster as we needed to concentrate on the other competitions over and above the cup. Some may disagree with that as we do have a proud history in that competition. However, in the grand scheme of things, a trip to Wembley would have been nice but the reward would only really have been a place in the Europa League, something that we should achieve at the very minimum even if we fail to keep our league form on track.
Europe presented us with an opportunity to win a bigger trophy and secure a Champions League place. We put in a very professional performance in Florence which gave us the upper hand with the away goal. In the home leg we showed what we are really capable off as we dismantled a very good Italian side to set up a glamour tie against Borussia Dortmund.
But first there were important Premier League games that could have seen us rein in Leicester City.
A visit from Swansea resulted in a comfortable win in the end despite allowing them a head start. Something that has become a bit of a habit for Spurs this season. Yet again we showed why we have gained more points from a losing position this season than any other team.
A win at West Ham would have seen us go top but Slaven Bilic got his tactics spot on by electing to play three at the back and to be honest, we did not have answer to that. With niggly injuries and some players not performing as we know they can, it appeared that cracks were starting to show. So onto the biggest North London Derby for years.
Again, the chance was there to put pressure on Leicester by going top – if only for a few hours. So what do we do, allow them to score first (against the run of play it has to be said, and slightly fortuitously) to make the job harder. To be fair we came out in the second half and really went for it gaining just reward with 2 quick goals but then naively, and with some forced substitutions (Rose cramp, Lamela dangerously close to seeing red) contributing, we allowed them back in the game.
Arsenal certainly were not deserving of a win – we forced more saves from an Arsenal keeper since 2009 and with 26 shots (11 on target) we out fired them as well. Lloris didn’t actually have that much to do. Unfortunately this has allowed Leicester to gain on us in the race to the title.
Are we really trying to win it though? In what has been a great season so far the priority surely has to be securing a top three place. Anything more is surely a bonus. Yes, it would be a reward for years of being also rans but the target set was to get Champions League Football at the very minimum. Something that is looking more and more likely.
And then Dortmund. We were on the end of a severe footballing lesson and got our just desserts in all honesty. Poor team selection? Maybe, but then perhaps the League is being given higher priority and German Football watching people with more knowledge of the Bundesliga I know reckon it was the best Dortmund had played all season. They always had a spare man and like West Ham, were often playing with three at the back. That is something we need to find an answer to quickly before other managers realise that is a way of stopping us.
It’s all ‘if onlys’ now, If we had started with a stronger lineup, if Son had been awarded that penalty. Whatever, I believe the gulf between the two sides was huge and we have to learn from that. We should treat the second leg with respect and try and show what we are really capable of. An early goal and who knows what might happen? Dortmund may believe they already have the tie won! It has happened before. I know- dreamland! but football is full of surprises but I won’t be too upset to go out and leave us the league to concentrate on.
Back to the League today and a very important game. If we had any pretensions of grabbing the title we simply had to win this one against a Villa side that quite frankly, at times have looked, demoralized, disjointed and to put it more succinctly, like they simply don’t care. A club in serious trouble. Maybe surprisingly, for a while they gave it a go without really causing any problems. We were knocking on their door more as the first half went on and then a great bit of thinking from Deli Alli gave Kane the opportunity to open the scoring (a goal that had been coming for most of the half it has to be said having hit the woodwork three times) and then again setting Kane up soon after the interval for the second.
A slight wobble in concentration almost allowing Villa back in the end, something I hope Pochettino addresses sharply, but a simple victory in the end and more like the Spurs Team we have become accustomed to watching this season.
The question now is do we try and get some respect and have a go on Thursday , or simply resign ourselves to the fact that all we have left is the League. And do we have the composure and the bottle to see it through – because that is what it will come down to in the end.Why not register (It's free) and join in our discussions during the 2016/17 season
You can read our main forum 'The Shelfside' by clicking 'Here'